Potential climate impact of black carbon emitted by rockets
Article first published online: 28 DEC 2010
Copyright 2010 by the American Geophysical Union.
Geophysical Research Letters
Volume 37, Issue 24, December 2010
How to Cite
2010), Potential climate impact of black carbon emitted by rockets, Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L24810, doi:10.1029/2010GL044548., , and (
- Issue published online: 28 DEC 2010
- Article first published online: 28 DEC 2010
- Manuscript Accepted: 20 SEP 2010
- Manuscript Revised: 7 SEP 2010
- Manuscript Received: 6 JUL 2010
 A new type of hydrocarbon rocket engine is expected to power a fleet of suborbital rockets for commercial and scientific purposes in coming decades. A global climate model predicts that emissions from a fleet of 1000 launches per year of suborbital rockets would create a persistent layer of black carbon particles in the northern stratosphere that could cause potentially significant changes in the global atmospheric circulation and distributions of ozone and temperature. Tropical stratospheric ozone abundances are predicted to change as much as 1%, while polar ozone changes by up to 6%. Polar surface temperatures change as much as one degree K regionally with significant impacts on polar sea ice fractions. After one decade of continuous launches, globally averaged radiative forcing from the black carbon would exceed the forcing from the emitted CO2 by a factor of about 105 and would be comparable to the radiative forcing estimated from current subsonic aviation.